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Floats : Robert Breer
Engineer : John Ryde

Pavilion Plaza with Floats in the foreground

Robert Breer Floats on the plaza of the Pavilion.


When Breer first thought about ideas for the Pavilion in Japan he thought of the moving sculptures he was making, geometric Styrofoam shapes with battery-driven motors that caused them to move, slowly, almost imperceptibly. In the Japanese context, they suggested to him the famous Zen rock garden at the Ryoanji Temple, in Kyoto, where fifteen rocks set in raked sand and bounded on two sides by an wall, suggest to rapt meditators the shape of the  universe.  Some initiates maintain that if one gazes at the Ryoanji enough, the rocks will appear to move. Based on this idea, Breer thought, "it just occurred to me I could make my own  Japanese contemplation garden, the difference being that my rocks really would move."

Breer worked with engineer John Ryde to create larger versions of the sculptures he called Floats, that could operate on the Plaza outside the Pavilion for the duration of Expo '70. 

The Floats, seven white dome-shaped sculptures six feet high and six feet in diameter, moved around slowly around the Plaza at less than 2 feet per minute, emitting sound. When they hit the raised curb of the Plaza, touched each other, or encountered a person, they reversed direction.


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